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USS Hawaii becoming familiar with Pacific

    The Virginia-class submarine USS Hawaii, based out of Pearl Harbor, prepares for a “theater security engagement” port call at Changi Naval Base in Singapore.

The state’s hometown submarine, the USS Hawaii, has been making a name for itself on the first western Pacific deployment by one of the Navy’s relatively new Virginia-class submarines.

The 377-foot nuclear attack submarine was preparing Jan. 14 to make a "theater security engagement" port call at Changi Naval Base in Singapore as it nears the end of a six-month deployment.

A few of Hawaii’s stops show how the submarines crisscross the Pacific.

On Aug. 25 the Hawaii left Pearl Harbor.

On Sept. 3 the sub and its crew of about 130 stopped at Yokosuka Naval Station in Yokosuka, Japan.

More than a month later, on Oct. 20, the Hawaii was in Guam for a sonar system repair.

On Nov. 10 the Hawaii made a port call in Pusan, South Korea.

In another first, the Hawaii moored outboard the submarine tender USS Frank Cable on Dec. 28 back in Guam.

Cmdr. Christy Hagen, a spokeswoman for the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force, said it is common for submarines to make multiple port visits on deployment.

"One of the very important things that we do is to work with various navies around the region, and part of that is meeting them and introducing them to our forces and vice versa," she said.

In this case those navies got a chance to see a Virginia-class submarine up close.

The Virginia subs, displacing 7,800 tons and costing more than $2 billion apiece, are touted as being as quiet as the Seawolf, of which only three were built, and much quieter than older Los Angeles-class submarines.

In addition to its three Virginia-class submarines — a number that will grow — Pearl Harbor is home to 15 Los Angeles-class subs.

Armed with torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles, Virginia-class submarines are the Navy’s first major combat ship designed for a post-Cold War environment.

The subs have six side-mounted sonar arrays, plus arrays in the bow, sail and nose, improving capabilities for eavesdropping and mapping the ocean floor and minefields.

Traditional hull-penetrating periscopes have been replaced by cameras and sensors mounted on masts, allowing command and control to be moved to larger quarters.

Greater modularity means space can be filled with torpedoes or berthing for 30 SEAL commandos.

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